Could attack ads on Justin Trudeau backfire on the Tories?
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2013 10:11AM EDT
Attack ads released hours after Justin Trudeau was named leader of the Liberal party, framing the 41-year-old as being “way over his head,” may backfire on the governing Conservatives, says one public relations expert.
Patrick Gossage, chair of public relations firm Media Profile, says the ads that were released Monday show Trudeau in stark contrast to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which could actually work in the Liberals’ favour.
Footage featured in one of the ads was taken during a fundraising event for the Canadian Liver Foundation that showed, in slow motion, Trudeau participating in a mock strip tease to raise money for the charity.
“It doesn’t really resonate with the worries people have about Justin,” Gossage told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday. “People certainly aren’t worried about Justin’s ability to do fun things, to be lively, to be accessible, to do a bit of crazy things like his father did. They’re worried about his lack of experience and I’m amazed that (the Conservatives) didn’t focus in on that.”
Shortly after the ad began circulating online, the Canadian Liver Foundation released a statement, applauding Trudeau for his support.
“Mr. Trudeau was willing to not only attend our event but also generously donate a lunch to be auctioned off to raise funds for liver disease research and education,” reads the statement, adding that the auction item raised $1,900.
Gossage, who served as press secretary to former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, said the tagline the Tories have used in their attack ads – “just in over his head” – is not as memorable as those used to portray passed Liberal leaders.
Previous ads released by the Tories pegged former Liberal leader Stephane Dion as “not a leader” and Michael Ignatieff as “just visiting.”
“This is not the ad that’s going to squelch what’s really a big grassroots movement that’s just started,” Gossage said.
A second attack ad highlights the Papineau MP’s background as a drama teacher and snowboard instructor and asks if Trudeau has the “judgment” to be prime minister.
With two years until the next federal election, Gossage said Trudeau has enough time to “embed himself in the consciousness of Canadians.”
Trudeau brushed off the attack ads Monday, saying that Canadians are tired of negative advertising that have become typical of the Tories.
“If Mr. Harper and the Conservatives want to change the channel like that and want to talk about anything other than their record, it’s no surprise,” Trudeau told reporters.
He said the Liberals will respond with their own “positive” advertising campaign.